The Sailing Capital of the World
Annapolis has been a seaport since Maryland was established as a British colony in 1632; nearly 400 years later, it’s still a hub for fisheries that bring in Maryland’s famous blue crabs and the leisure craft that fill its many marinas and line up along Ego Alley at the City Dock for a day of shopping and dining. Colonial architecture lovers will also appreciate Maryland’s historic capital, where Washingtonian Magazine noted that it might have more intact 18th-century homes than any other city in the nation. The domes, spires and cupolas of its churches and State House buildings define the skyline, but its commerce is thriving with modern energy. Independently owned shops, galleries and restaurants line Main Street and the streets coming off State Circle toward the water. Even better: All of Annapolis’ attractions are minutes away by car from West Annapolis and Wardour — or a 40-minute walk down tree-lines streets, over College Creek, and through the Naval Academy and St. John’s campuses on a pleasant evening.
The Advantages of West Annapolis
Wardour is a section of West Annapolis, which lies just across College Creek from St. John’s College and the U.S. Naval Academy. The neighborhood’s large, leafy lots and handsome homes make it ideal for families, and though it’s within walking distance of historic downtown Annapolis, its quaint independent shops and restaurants — most of them look like homes — remain a hidden neighborhood gem, tucked quietly away from the nearby tourist destinations. The Baltimore Sun called it “a little bit of Mayberry in Maryland,” and The Washington Examiner summed up its vibe:
“West Annapolis is a neighborhood of Zen-like balance. It is folksy enough to feel like a village, with its Mom’s Club and Cooking Club, yet metropolitan enough to access major highways, like Route 50 to Washington, D.C. There are equal parts antique shops to upscale boutiques. And the view of the water is matched only by the changing of the mature foliage this time of year.”
The History of Wardour
The Wardour enclave of West Annapolis gets its name from Wardour Castle in Wiltshire, England; it was the birthplace of Ann Arundell, the wife of Lord Baltimore who founded the Maryland colony. When Elisabeth Giddings inherited 225 acres from her father in 1884, she designated a portion that had high bluffs and wooded terrain as Wardour. Because of its unique topography, Giddings called on the great Frederick Law Olmstead Jr. and his Olmstead Brothers firm in Boston to develop the tract, which looked over the Severn River and Weems Creek. Olmstead’s curvilinear street patterns and irregularly shaped lots follow the natural contours of the bluffs, and he preserved much of the area’s existing specimen trees, which continue to shade the neighborhood’s stately homes. Olmstead also designed large green spaces and waterfront access points to be community owned, as they remain today. Thus, the man who designed Rock Creek Parkway in DC as well as the grounds of the White House and the Washington National Cathedral bestowed similar reverence to this special peninsula in West Annapolis.